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In this guest post, Tibor Schiemann, President and Managing Partner of TuneUp discusses how to restore lost data and repair damaged file. Find out more about Tibor at the end of this post.

Have you ever accidentally deleted the wrong photo? Or emptied the Recycle Bin and not realized that an important folder was in it? Unfortunately, it only takes a single mouse-click to lose a file.

So, what is the best way to go about restoring this lost data? It’s important to avoid write operations on the hard disk or flash drive inup anymore.question—if you can. Deleted files are never actually erased or destroyed; only the “pointer” to that specific file is gone, so it will not show

The good news is that the data will remain intact. The bad news, however, is that the Windows file system will mark the file as “overwriteable”. What this means is that the physical space used to store the deleted file is now designated as free space, where new programs can be installed, new files can be saved, or new data can be created. The accidentally deleted file will most likely be fully or partially overwritten, and in the latter case, it will be damaged.

By just turning on your PC and starting and shutting down applications, Windows automatically creates temporary files on your hard disk. Depending on your start configuration, this might be a few, or hundreds of, megabytes of data. You’ll eventually destroy the accidentally deleted file.

Three Data Recovery Solutions to Consider

First, a warning. Before you start the repair process, back up your entire disk or, if that’s not possible due to too many errors, copy all of your important data onto an external hard disk or burn it onto a DVD. Now we can get into how to remedy the situation through three options that won’t cost you a dime.

Depending on your situation, the following tools might come in handy for restoring your lost or damaged data. For those looking for a tool to easily rescue files from a hard disk, USB drive or camera card, the free trial for TuneUp Utilities’ Undelete feature is one of many great options available.

What about recovering data on damaged CDs or DVDs? Error correction in today’s laptops and PCs is great, but it can’t perform miracles. If you’re trying to access the files and the only thing you hear is the drive spinning around, I recommend CD Recovery Toolbox to get to your data and find out if it’s recoverable. I actually tried the free tool, which is capable of restoring CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays/HD DVDs, on three disks that were more than seven years old and heavily scratched. It worked flawlessly; I restored whole files that I backed up in 2003 and haven’t looked at since.

Lastly, if you’ve fallen victim to files that won’t open or just go missing all of a sudden, programs that suddenly won’t run anymore and show “invalid” file messages, or a Windows-based system that won’t boot up and gives hard disk warnings, try using your PC’s built-in disk checker. If you’re lucky, this is just a case of some bad drive sectors that can be easily repaired.

Here’s how to use Microsoft’s built-in disk checker. Click on the Windows Start orb, enter “cmd” and wait for the result to show up. Right-click on “cmd” and click on “Run as administrator”. Once the command shell pops up, enter “chkdsk /f /r /b”. This will launch the most effective repair tool Windows has to offer—it corrects all errors, finds and restores damaged sectors, and marks them as “bad” (if they are not recoverable). Finally, hit “Y” and restart your machine.

Depending on your hard disk, this can take a couple of hours. All of your files should come back as good as new, but watch out for further errors because should problems persist, there likely is a hard disk defect.

Tibor Schiemann is the President and Managing Partner of TuneUp. For more tips and tricks on restoring lost data and repairing damaged files—and keeping your PC running smoothly—visit the TuneUp Blog about Windows at http://blog.tune-up.com.

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2 thoughts on “Restore Lost Data and Repair Damaged Files [How To]”

  1. Rich says:

    Uh, on using chkdsk, if you will read the “help” (chkdsk /?) you will see that you do not have to type it out as chkdsk /f /r /b. Read closely and you will see that /r implies /f (meaning the functions of /f are included in the task) and that /b implies /r, which means that you need only type “chkdsk /b” to have it perform as “/f /r /b” Shortcuts are even handy on the command line.

    1. Rich says:

      Thanks for your input.

Comments are closed.

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